Kansas City Chiefs running back Jerick McKinnon finished Sunday’s 34-28 win over the Denver Broncos with seven receptions for 112 yards and two touchdowns. It was only the second 100-yard receiving game of the veteran back’s career — and his first since 2017. Before Sunday, McKinnon had never recorded multiple receiving touchdowns in a game.
The play of the game came in the second quarter, as quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw an indescribable short pass while scrambling. McKinnon stumbled (but recovered) while catching the no-look target, turning the awkward throw into a 56-yard touchdown reception.
While it was the longest reception of his career, the running back didn’t know it was coming his way.
“I wasn’t sure,” he confirmed. “But that was just Pat being Pat. He’s incredible at making plays like that. Anytime he gets out of the pocket, he does a great job of keeping his eyes downfield. Once I saw him kind of suck up on the QB scramble, I tried to just get downfield. He made an incredible play to get it out there, and I was able to come up with it. [Chiefs tight end] Noah Gray had a great block out front as well. We were able to create an amazing play.”
McKinnon credited his quarterback for keeping the play alive long enough for the pass to be possible.
“He peeked at me,” the running back recalled, “but I wasn’t sure what he was going to do with it. So I kind of was just waiting to see what happened — and he got it out there. He gave me time to get to it.”
McKinnon is happy to have made one of the highlight extended plays that usually go to tight end Travis Kelce.
“You’ve seen it since he’s been in the league,” McKinnon said of Mahomes, “He’s been doing amazing things like that. They always emphasize scramble drills throughout camp and the season. Whenever he breaks the pocket, I think guys do a pretty good job of getting open. He finds Kelce on some crazy stuff most of the time. [I was] just trying to be there for him — and he made an amazing play.”
From film study, the Chiefs believed there would be opportunities to get running backs involved in the passing game.
“On film,” McKinnon explained, “they dropped a lot and we knew that the flats would be there. Pat hit us in the flat a couple of times. [We] really just forced them to take the flats, and it opened everything else up after that.”
The Chiefs will likely take plenty of criticism after allowing a game they once led 27-0 to become competitive. But McKinnon respects the challenge that the Broncos' defense presented, and is satisfied with how the team — and head coach Andy Reid — responded from Week 13’s 27-24 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
“We’re just a tough team,” he declared. “It starts with Coach Reid, and [it] trickles down. It definitely wasn’t easy. That Broncos defense — we knew they were going to be tough. They came out and played hard [for] all four quarters. Hats off to them for that. We had to get our fight in; [we] definitely were battle-tested. We just wanted to respond from last week’s loss.”